Someone's in the house. He's watching. He's creeping round, only you can't see him. He's watching you from the walls. He's right behind you now. Looking over your shoulder. He wants the remote control. He's a bad boy. He wants to watch bad movies. Bad bad Ronald...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gone (2007)

Another bad day for the outback backpackers.
For reasons that I can't quite comprehend, the Australian horror scene got a real bad knock after the controversial Wolf Creek ripped through the horror headlines.  So many people said it was a disgusting, all-for-the-thrill-of-gore movie.  Many unjustly threw it on the torture-porn funeral pyre, along with Hostel and Saw and their cousins (Wolf Creek was miles better than those pieces of mule shit).  Others -- the Aussie locals who recalled the tragedy it was loosely based on -- were outraged that filmmakers would so quickly capitalize on a brutal true-life crime.  Me?  I thought it a fantastically built upon suspense yarn that explodes into unrelenting, and horrific terror.  I was disturbed and unsettled... and I like that.  Gone didn't deserve to be shoved aside because of the other film's controversy.  In fact, outside of some similarities in their storytelling maneuvers, the films are quite different.

Hmm... you think this cage this guy has behind us is some kinda foreboding omen?
Brit boy Alex (Shaun Evens from the gawdawful After Dark Horrorfest IV entry Dread) arrives in Australia with nothing but a backpack and a tourist guide. Looking lost, a charismatic American traveler Taylor (Scott Melchlowicz from Mean Creek) invites him along to party Aussie style with a couple local gals he's hooked up with.  It isn't until after Alex crawls out of a sleeping bag with one of the girls that he fesses up that he's in town to meet up with his girlfriend.  Oops!  What to do with the incriminating Polaroids that Taylor snapped of all of them last night?  Not a problem.  Taylor is such a cool dude, he tosses the pics in the trash at the gas station, before delivering Alex to his rendezvous with his girl Sophie (Amelia Warner, who did a number of period pieces before tagging onto some genre flicks) -- except that he's not gonna exit the scene that easily.
They didn't sign their postcards
After an initial day of fun and frolic on the Aussie beaches, Taylor drops the news that after a one night fling, Sophie's gal pal Ingrid (Zoe Tuckwell-Smith) grabbed the earliest bus outa town, leaving the two lovebirds with a third wheel on their romantic getaway.  Naturally, this doesn't sit well with Alex, seeing that Taylor has the scoop on his infidelities AND is being very obvious towards his girlfriend.  The pot starts to boil over when the lovebirds run into another fellow traveler who is a link to Taylor's sordid, maybe violent past. Envy, paranoia, distrust... all items on the menu on this vacation from hell.
He's attracted to me?  Oh please.
I don't understand why this flick didn't get more attention.  I guess that by the time Gone had entered the horrorspehere, people were already leary of the tourists-meet-tragedy flicks, like Touristas, Donkey Punch, and the Hostel twins, so they didn't bother.  It's a shame, because fans were all abuzz about Lake Eden (another romantic excursion gone wrong) but no one seemed to notice that Gone was written by James Watkins, the fellow who directed, and also wrote, that fine flick.

Much like Wolf Lake, the film takes its time to let the characters breath, to interact and react to each other. The performances are pretty much solid, with Scott Melchlowicz pulling off the double-edged task of being both charismatic and slimy.  And the direction by Ringan Ledwidge is so wonderfully subtle. Nothing is obvious, and that's exactly why this flick works as a suspense thriller.  The character of Sophie could've easily been the usual pissy, underappreciated hot girlfriend, but Ledwidge steers Amelia Warner towards a performance that is more genuine.  She's a girl who wants to enjoy her time with her boyfriend and gets effected by the change she sees in him.  She's definitely a cute girl, but her looks and fashion sense are downplayed, so as not to be just some body for the camera to focus onto.
Yeah, she's mine.  Can't you tell?
 Taylor is certainly dubious and has ulterior motives towards Alex's girlfriend. And Alex is a guilt-ridden freak who knows he doesn't deserve a girl as sweet and genuine as Sophie.  These personality conflicts are what build the suspense.  There's no body in the trunk that we're waiting for the unsuspecting lovebirds to discover, no detective knocking at doors to get us all riled up, no big shows of violence (until the 3rd act!).  It's all character driven thrills.  But, unlike Wolf Creek, the gruesomeness is not so much slash-'em-up kind, but more pulse pounding (with a white knuckle "chase" scene climax that is absolutely maddening), cat-and-dangermouse kind.

1 comment:

  1. fuck me. i'd never go to australia.
    full of damn psychopathic outback weirdos.

    now, s'cuse me while i nick off & go throw another shrimp on the barby, digger.

    wait... what?